German health minister sets digitalisation as a top priority for new initiative

What happened

Digitalisation was listed as a top priority for the Global Health Hub Germany initiative, which kicked off last week.

Speaking at the launch event in Berlin, German federal health minister Jens Spahn said one of the project’s aims was to “promote the digitalisation of healthcare internationally”.

The health hub will also focus on the fight against tropical diseases, cancer and antibiotic resistance.

“Germany needs to use its power and expertise to help effectively. Good health care does not end at state borders,” said Spahn.

The project will be supported with start-up funding by the German federal ministry of health (BMG) for three years until 2011, and will be coordinated by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

What’s the impact

The Global Health Hub Germany network has around 200 partners from health organisations, NGOs, the scientific community and industry. 

German electronic industry association ZVEI said the project will result in integrated approaches towards global health efforts.

“Using digital and mobile technologies to provide integrated care workflows, for issues such as for chronic disease, could provide innovative solutions for global health challenges,” said ZVEI medical engineering managing director, Hans-Peter Bursig.

“Through telemedicine, medical knowledge can be made accessible over long distances and improve healthcare in large geographical areas, meaning a limited number of centres of excellence can provide expert knowledge and guidance for a large number of people.”

However, he added that global health improvements could not rely exclusively on technological innovation.

“Equally important is a push towards universal health coverage for healthcare systems to be sustainable,” he said.

What’s the trend

The project is guided by the sustainability goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030, which call for increased interdisciplinary exchange and closer cooperation between different sectors.

Global Health Hub Germany office head, Kristina Kloss told Mobihealthnews that members of the network will use a virtual online platform to exchange ideas and initiate partnerships across stakeholder groups.

“Digitalisation in health will be one of the initial priority areas for the hub,” she said. “Members are invited to break these broad areas down into particular questions they would like to discuss and work on in an interdisciplinary way.”

On the record

German high-tech industry association, Spectaris welcomed the hub and called for it to enable the exchange and transparency of health big data.

Spectaris head of foreign trade and export promotion, Jennifer Goldenstede, said: “Databases often are not linked on a global level. If a database with major research topics and projects regarding global health issues was implemented it could be an asset for all key players.”

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